CHARLESTON, S.C., September 3, 2015 (UPI) — South Carolina prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the man charged in the June murders of nine black members of a Charleston church.
Roof, 21, is white and is accused of gunning down members of Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church because it is an historically black church.
Last week, Roof plead “not guilty” to federal hate crime and firearms charges but told his attorneys he was ready to enter a “guilty” plea on those charges.
Roof’s lawyers say they couldn’t advise Roof to plead guilty until they knew whether prosecutors intended to seek the death penalty.
The death penalty decision Thursday could determine how Roof pleads in the state’s murder case. He has yet to enter a plea to the South Carolina charges.
After last Friday’s hearing, the Rev Norvel Goff, interim pastor of Emanuel AME Church said, “the process has started.”
“This is a long journey, but we are committed to the task to make sure justice is done,” he told reporters.